European Journal of Ageing

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 109–119 | Cite as

Self-esteem across adulthood: the role of resources

  • Jenny Wagner
  • Frieder R. Lang
  • Franz J. Neyer
  • Gert G. Wagner
Original Investigation

Abstract

It is still not well understood how and why developmental trajectories of self-esteem change, particularly in late life. We investigated the role of resources for self-esteem change across adulthood. In detail, we explored between-person differences in self-esteem levels and change in relation to resources with participants who ranged in age from 17 to 100 years. Study 1 consisted of a cross-sectional representative German sample of 12,609 participants, where we observed few age differences in mean levels of self-esteem across adulthood. Being married or in a relationship and positive subjective health were associated with higher levels of self-esteem. In addition, relations of resources of subjective health as well as neuroticism with self-esteem appeared to be smaller in late compared to young adulthood. Longitudinal studies including young (N = 338) and older adults (N = 325) indicated both reasonably high stability regarding rank-order and mean levels of self-esteem across 4 and 8 years. Again, age-differential resources appeared to be important for higher levels of self-esteem with education being related to self-esteem in young adults and subjective health in late life. However, no resource was associated with changes in self-esteem in either young or late adulthood. Overall, findings suggest that self-esteem levels are reflective of age-specific constraints and risks.

Keywords

Self-esteem Resources Adulthood Old age Cross-sectional data Longitudinal data 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jenny Wagner
    • 1
  • Frieder R. Lang
    • 2
    • 3
  • Franz J. Neyer
    • 4
  • Gert G. Wagner
    • 3
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Psychological Research MethodsHumboldt-University of BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Friedrich-Alexander-UniversityErlangen-NurembergGermany
  3. 3.German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)BerlinGermany
  4. 4.Friedrich-Schiller University of JenaJenaGermany
  5. 5.Berlin University of TechnologyBerlinGermany
  6. 6.Max Plank Institute of Human DevelopmentBerlinGermany

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